Nevada - UCLA TV viewer guide
Game day: August 31, 7 p.m. PT
Stadium: Rose Bowl - Pasadena, Calif.
Nevada - UCLA TV Information: Pac-12 Networks
Story lines: Last season was the Year of the Redshirt Freshman Quarterback, and UCLA’s Brett Hundley was one of the main reasons why. Remember what he did on his first collegiate snap against Rice? Things only took off from there for Hundley and the Bru Cru, who then beat a ranked Nebraska team the very next week and climbed in the top 25, where they would spend a good portion of the season. A 9-2 start and defeat of USC for the first time since the Karl Dorrell era earned the Bruins a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game for the second consecutive year, but that’s where the fun ended. The Bruins lost the title bout after holding a fourth-quarter lead and were overmatched by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl to leave a bad taste in their mouths heading into the off-season.
The question going into 2013 for the Westwood Warriors isn’t at QB, rather it’s who is behind or beside him. Now that “The Mayor,” Johnathan Franklin, will be off and running for the Green Bay Packers, the Bruins need to find a new running back (or more likely running backs) to carry the load. While it figures to be a by-committee gig in the backfield, Jordon James appears to have risen to the top, with Paul Perkins, Steven Manfro, Damien Thigpen and Malcolm Jones being some other names to consider.
[Related: 2013 UCLA football schedule]
Lining up on the other side of the ball is a Nevada squad that will be playing under the guidance of a new head coach for the first time in almost 30 years. Gone is Chris Ault, the innovator of the famed Pistol offense and head coach of the Wolf Pack for the last 28 seasons. In his place is Brian Polian, a first-time head coach and masterful recruiter who recently spent a couple of years at Stanford. For any Wolf Pack faithful out there reading this, don’t worry—the pistol ain’t goin’ nowhere. Seems like a good idea by Polian to keep the offense around, especially considering that it has resulted in the Pack averaging more than 35 points and 475 yards per game since its inception in 2005. Like the Bruins, Nevada will also need to replace a top-notch back in Stefphon Jefferson, the nation’s second-leading rusher in 2012 (Don Jackson and Kendall Brock are now the guys to watch in the Nevada backfield). But, like the Bruins, the Pack return a dual-threat quarterback familiar with the offense. That would be Cody Fajardo, who threw for more than 2,500 yards last year, ran for 1,121 more and led the Pack to victory at Cal in the first game in the renovated Memorial Stadium.
Trying to stop the Pack attack will be a Bruin defense spearheaded by linebacker Anthony Barr, who is more than just a poster boy (although he did show off quite the affable personality at 2013 Pac-12 Football Media Day last month). I mean, who can forget the hit he laid on Matt Barkley?
This one figures to be wildly entertaining, close game or not. Perhaps Jim Mora should give ole RichRod a call for some guidance, for Arizona stormed back from 17 down in the fourth quarter and 13 down in the final minute to beat Nevada 49-48 in the New Mexico Bowl in what was definitely one of the most entertaining games of the 2012-13 bowl season.
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TOMORROW | 12:00pm PTLive